The History Of Hollywood Musical Bio Pics




Because of the cultural centrality of music, music history films constitute something of an informal chronicle of American popular culture from vaudeville, Broadway, Hollywood, Swing and Pop era. Considered in their historical context, these musical biographicals also disclose remarkable changes in cultural taste and temperament over the last 100 years. Not coincidentally, the first musical bio pic ever made The Jolson Story in 1946-created a white Jewish singer famous for his performances in black face. Likewise, several post World War II musical bio pics focused on white swing era band leaders and musicians (Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, The Fabulous Dorsey’s and Red Nichols) There have been a slew of biopics in recent years, although its history dates back to 1900 with Cyrano de Bergerac. I guess the old adage that “truth is stranger than fiction” has been taken to heart by Hollywood. The music biopic has been around a while too. The first one I could find was 1942’s Yankee Doodle Dandy, about the life of Broadway impresario George M. Cohan, with James Cagney in the lead role. Since then the silver screen has been filled with films about musicians of all stripes: vaudeville entertainers (The Jolson Story), big band jazz leaders (The Glenn Miller Story Gene Krupa Story, Benny Goodman Story, Red Nichols), Frank Sinatra (Sinatra) Bobby Darin (Beyond the Sea), and to name a few. While these music biopics have the advantage of often colorful personalities and great soundtracks, many of them fall victim to the boring conventions of formula. Oftentimes it goes something like this: hardships early in life, usually stemming from poverty, abusive parents or tragic accident meteoric rise to fame fall from grace, usually brought on by drugs, alcohol, or divorce (sometimes all three – see Ray and Walk the Line) redemption and comeback or early, tragic death. Despite these filmic trappings, there have been some amazing biopics favorites

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Weight 41.6 oz
Dimensions 7 × 9.9 × 1.5 in


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